Editor’s note: Follow all of the action and updates on our special Monterey Car Week page.
Staging for the Pebble Beach Tour d’Elegance starts early, at 6 a.m. on the resort’s Polo Field, where more than 100 of the world’s finest automobiles were getting ready for a 60-mile drive on public roads.
I was invited to ride along as a passenger in a 1948 Tucker driven by Leslie Kendall, chief historian at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
The car was roomy inside. Leslie mentioned that driving the Tucker felt like driving a “very large Porsche” because of rear-engine design. He also explained some of the car’s innovations, including the first “crumple zone” and other safety features.
The cruise started out great. Crowds of people stood alongside the roads with cameras and smartphones pointed at us as we pulled away and turned onto the road. We felt like celebrities.
But coming out of a curve after only about a mile from the resort, things went array. Leslie started to accelerate, only to hear a rather violent clunking sound followed by a total lack of throttle response. We knew right away that it was bad.
Luckily, we were coming to a section of the tour where the road had a shoulder with room for a Tucker and a tow truck.
As we stepped out of the car, unsure what had happened, a young gentleman ran up with pieces of a Tucker driveshaft in hand.
Once again, we were getting our pictures taken, only now by other participants who were taking photos of our crew standing by the stopped car holding chunks of driveshaft.
Hagerty insurance quickly had a tow-truck in place and hauled the poor Tucker away to a transporter; I had the unique opportunity of steering the rare classic onto the big truck while it was being pushed from behind.
Our tour was over, but I’ll still cherish the memory forever.
While our tour was over, the Tour d’Elegance continued, and you can see photographer Howard Koby’s gallery of images at the top of this story.